You might ask students if they ever compared their memory of an event to an actual recording of the incident and discovered discrepancies. The Reality Memory doesn’t record our experiences like a video camera. The stories are sometimes uncannily accurate, sometimes completely fictional, and often a mixture of the two; and they can change to suit the situation.
Eyewitness testimony is a potent form of evidence for convicting the accused, but it is subject to unconscious memory distortions and biases even among the most confident of witnesses.
This is a good entry point to discuss the nature of long-term memory and how it is both constructive (at encoding) and reconstructive (at retrieval).
The instructor can discuss work on the misinformation effect and eyewitness testimony here. Slides 5 and 6 review the myth and the reality of memory.
Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at 60 Minutes: Eyewitness Testimony Part 1 () 60 Minutes: Eyewitness Testimony Part 2 () A two-part news story focusing on the case of Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson, one of the best documented cases of false conviction. Eyewitness Testimony slides Next discuss the assignment.
Extensive interviews with the people involved in the case as well as Elizabeth Loftus and Gary Wells. I’ve summarized the study in Slide 2 and have graphed sample findings in Slides 3 and 4. It should become clear that people’s memories are shaped by their biases and expectations; they are not an objective reflection of what happened.
Third, eyewitnesses are often sincere and confident, which makes them persuasive but not necessarily correct. Witnesses truly believe their version of events, no matter how inaccurate they may be. People notice the times when they accurately remembered some person or detail in their past, but tend to forget the times when their memory failed them.
With the prevalence of video cameras capturing most anything we do, it is easier than ever to check memories against actual recordings of events.
I’ve provided a concept map of different memory concepts in Slide 7.
There are various ways of organizing the memory unit: historically from Ebbinghaus to current models, or focusing on a particular model such as Information processing (almost 50 years out of date, but still a powerful way of organizing concepts).